JOINT PRESS RELEASE
FOR RELEASE ON 31 JANUARY 2001
SINGAPORE POISED TO BECOME LEADING BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES HUB
Says leading US Researcher who takes top post at Singapore Genomics Program
1) The Singapore Genomics Program (SGP), a national research programme which started in June 2000, has recruited Dr. Edison Liu (48 years) to lead their research efforts as its Executive Director with effect from 10 March 2001.
2) Dr. Liu is currently the Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)'s Division of Clinical Sciences, a leading cancer research centre in the USA. One of his immediate tasks at SGP is to outline a research strategy that is built upon Singapore's strengths in molecular biology, information technology, and good clinical infrastructure In the coming years. SGP will recruit scientists from all over the world, with the aim of making SGP an internationally competitive programme.
3) Mr Philip Yeo, Chairman, National Science & Technology Board (NSTB) said, "We are delighted to have Dr. Edison Liu, with his vast experience in clinical medicine and molecular genetics, to lead SGP, a flagship public sector research programme. His in-depth knowledge of clinical medicine and genetics, and far-sighted thinking will ensure that SGP's research efforts are founded on good science and can bring benefit to common diseases in Singapore. I am happy that Dr. Liu is fully committing himself to Singapore's biomedical research goals by coming to Singapore as SGP's Executive Director. I am certain that SGP will succeed in its research efforts under Dr. Liu's leadership."
4) Before Dr. Edison Liu's appointment as Executive Director, Associate Professor Kong Hwai Loong, Founding Director of SGP, has been working with a protem Executive Committee since June 2000 to establish the infrastructure of SGP, including its concept, strategies, and budget. Commented Assoc. Professor Kong, "Having Dr. Liu on board will help us tremendously in bringing SGP to the next level. He brings with him much expertise and research experience and will be a great boost to Singapore's overall biomedical research initiative."
5) Assoc. Professor Kong Hwai Loong, has also been appointed Deputy Executive Director of NSTB's Biomedical Research Council (BMRC), with effect from 1 March 2001. This comes soon after the appointment of Professor Louis Lim as Executive Director on 1 January 2001.
6) Dr. Liu is confident that Singapore has the potential to be a leading Biomedical Sciences hub. He said: "Singapore is the most wired country in Asia, has the highest educational standards in mathematics and science in the world. The operating practices are consonant with Western business operations. This coupled with the will of the Singapore leadership to succeed in the field of biomedical sciences makes for a winning combination."
7) According to Dr. Liu, "Genetic research today is global. Venue is relevant only in terms of what natural resources are available. In Singapore, the relevant resource for human genomics research is the ethnic diversity and well-kept clinical databases. This will provide the underpinnings for one of the SGP's most ambitious goals - the creation of a database of Asian genomic information. That database will enable researchers to study diseases and illnesses which are more relevant in Asia, to determine different reactions of particular drugs on Asian populations, and lay the groundwork for development of tailored drugs and therapies individualised to the patient's genetic make-up."
8) On his return to Asia and research in genomics, Hong Kong-born Dr. Liu commented: "This is a chance for me to make an impact in a country that wants biomedical sciences to be its lifeline for the future. I am happy to be able to give back to Asia, at a time when there is peace and economic opportunity."
9) As Director of the US National Cancer Institute (NCI)'s Division of Clinical Sciences, Dr. Liu oversaw the clinical translational science conducted at NCI and directed staff of more than 1,100 employees, including 100 principal investigators and 400 trainees. Dr. Edison Liu is a medical oncologist who received his Bachelor of Science degree and M.D. from Stanford University. Prior to his appointment at the NCI, he was the chief of Medical Genetics at the University of North Carolina's School of Medicine and the principal investigator for the institution's Specialised Programme of Research Excellence in Breast Cancer.
10) A well-known breast cancer researcher, Dr. Liu was awarded the 1996 Brinker International Award by the Komen Foundation, a breast cancer foundation in the US, for his outstanding contribution to basic research in this area. Last year, he received the prestigious Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award from the American Association for Cancer Research for his contribution to improved clinical care for cancer.
11) Assoc. Professor Kong Hwai Loong is a medical oncologist working in NUS/NUH. An M.B.B.S. (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) holder from NUS, Assoc. Professor Kong went on to receive his Master of Medicine from NUS and Membership of the Royal College of Physicians in United Kingdom in 1993, and his Certificate of Specialist Registration (Medical Oncology) from the Singapore Medical Council in 1998. He received further postgraduate training in The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center from 1995-1997. His present appointments include the Founding Director of SGP, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Medicine at NUS, Consultant in the Departments of Haematology-Oncology and Medicine at NUH, and member to a number of international and local professional organisations and societies.
12) Assoc. Professor Kong's major research interests include cancer gene therapy, tumour angiogenesis, primary liver cancer and colorectal cancer. Besides being a top graduate in his undergraduate medical studies, Assoc. Professor Kong also won the American Society of Clinical Oncology Merit Award in 1997, the Singapore National Academy of Science Young Scientist Award in 1998, and the Singapore Youth Award in 1999. He was also the first recipient of the Yong Loo Lin Fellowship in Medical Oncology at NUS.
Background on Biomedical Research Council (BMRC)
NSTB's BMRC, the formation of which was announced in October 2000, will oversee and co-ordinate public sector Biomedical research and development activities in Singapore. The Council also aims to strengthen collaborative public research in the Biomedical Sciences in Singapore. The missions of the BMRC are to:
- Support, sustain and stimulate excellent research directed at maintaining and improving human health
- Train people in high quality skills to meet Singapore's needs of health, quality of life and global economic competitiveness and
- Promote societal awareness of Biomedical research.
Background on Singapore Genomics Program (SGP)
The SGP is a national flagship research programme in Singapore, and a key component of Singapore's drive to develop the Biomedical Sciences industry.
This multi-disciplinary programme will draw biomedical scientists, clinicians and informaticians across the universities, research institute/centres and hospitals to work closely together to understand the genetic mechanisms behind common diseases in Asia. Since the Program started in June 2000, it has attracted international interest from both academia and industry. SGP is
advised by a distinguished panel of internationally renowned biomedical research scientists.
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Ms Wendy Tang
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